In 2017 we introduced a herd of wild Konik ponies to the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve, the new residents at the reserve, will graze this area and provide an increasingly vital role in its conservation management in restoring a wide mosaic of habitats.
These locally bred hardy ponies will eat grasses, reeds, waterside plants and shrubs, including willow leaves and help to create and maintain a diverse landscape attractive to a wide range of flora and fauna. Konik ponies, Equus ferus caballus, are ideal grazers in lowland wetland sites, such is the Floodplain Forest we are creating. Plus they are very hardy and show a number of adaptations to wet sites, such as self-trimming hooves. They are the perfect breed to encourage biodiversity richness as they closely crop some areas of grassland leaving other areas of long vegetation untouched.
Why have you introduced the ponies?
The introduction of the Konik ponies is part of our aim to return the area back to what it might have looked like more than 5,000 years ago – a wildlife-rich floodplain forest. Ponies like these may have inhabited the Ouse Valley many thousands of years ago. The Koniks, which originate from eastern Europe but in recent decades have become increasingly popular in UK conservation, will be found on the reserve for most of the year being moved in times of flooding or if they are needed to graze elsewhere.
The ponies, which were bought from The National Trust, in Cambridgeshire, have a very calm and placid temperament and are not easily frightened. Key criteria for grazing in a publicly accessible site. Koniks are a close resemblance to Tarpan, the extinct Eurasian wild horse and popular with ecological grazing. They will not be handled too often as we want them to remain as wild as possible but they will be subject to daily visual inspections and looked at more closely once a week by our trained and dedicated volunteer team.
Please don't feed the ponies!
We ask visitors to the nature reserve not to approach the ponies too closely and to not feed them, as it interferes with their digestion. We would like to remind visitors to keep dogs on a short lead as there is so much sensitive wildlife on site such as nesting birds.